Know why it’s called Outspan Rd? We do….
We know how much you guys enjoy hearing about the roots of MX40 – and thought you would like to know the history behind Outspan Rd. The Sandton Historical Association published an article in 1984, painting a colourful picture of our neck of the woods.
In a nutshell, the small park adjacent to Redhill School and opposite the Morningside Shopping Centre in Sandton was once a major ‘outspan’ where weary travellers (and oxen, of course) rested en route to Johannesburg.
Here are the highlights of their research:
When the early farms were laid out in the “Transvaal” as the Voortrekkers surged northwards in the 1840s and 1850s, special attention was given to allowing open spaces between farms, where travellers or visiting families could graze their oxen while resting overnight or for several days to attend the markets. Known as ‘outspans’ they were, in fact, the first public parks. Many of these public areas remain today, and are of great significance when nearly all those original farms have been divided and sub-divided. One such “outspan” in Sandton is in Morningside, near a road which was thoughtfully named Outspan Road.
At the turn of the century, the “outspan” was well used, not only by travellers, but also by farmers who came to bring their produce to the market. From all over the highveld – from Pretoria, Brits, Rustenburg and Warmbaths – farmers came to sell their produce to the goldmines and to the people of Johannesburg. They all “outspanned” at this spot, coming in their wagons and bringing their peaches, apricots, oranges and all sorts of vegetables and fruit. While grazing their oxen on the “outspan” (in fact, a much larger area than our present Outspan Park) they would catch up on one another’s news and swop stories.
The “outspan” bordered the farm Protea (part of Zandfontein) on the west, owned by Oom Thys Heyneke. Mrs. Juliet Marais Louw, the well-known Sandton historian, spoke about it in the old days with Mrs. Annetjie Viljoen, who was born a Heyneke and a cousin of Oom Thys, in about 1896. Mrs. Viljoen moved with her family from Potchefstroom to Protea farm shortly after the Boer War. She remembered the “outspan”, and how, as a child, she had considered the whole world to be one gigantic farm. There were clear views of the highveld in every direction, and the farmhouses were spaced far apart from one another.
Mrs. Viljoen moved to Standerton, so she was not there when Morningside was developed as agricultural holdings by S.A. Townships in the early 1930s. Mr. Bill Hedding, now a local Councillor and founder of the Sandton Historical Association, spent his working life with S.A. Townships, and was involved in the saving of part of the original “outspan” as public parkland when the holdings were originally laid out – the conservation of the spring area being the main concern.
As Sandton has grown, those agricultural holdings gave way to small properties and complexes. The name “Outspan Park” will remind Sandtonians of the old days, 150 years ago, when wagons, oxen and farmers with their produce took their rest at the same spot.
Do you have any historical news or stories that may interest our MX40 residents? Comment below – we’d love to hear from you!